Hous­ing boss who saved town’s history

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Strat­ton Wil­liams

The chair­woman of Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion has stood down af­ter 30 years.

Geral­dine Baird MBE, of Cale­do­nia Av­enue, Ruther­glen, re­lin­quished the role at the as­so­ci­a­tion’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing.

She was one of the founder mem­bers of the as­so­ci­a­tion in 1980 when it set about saving many of the ten­e­ment prop­er­ties in Ruther­glen that had been sched­uled for de­mo­li­tion.

The ded­i­cated band feared de­te­ri­o­ra­tion could lead to de­mo­li­tion and the his­toric char­ac­ter of the town would be lost.

Geral­dine ( 64) re­mem­bers the liv­ing con­di­tions that drove her to do some­thing about it.

“At the time I lived in Vic­to­ria Street in a flat with an out­side toi­let so hav­ing per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of the sit­u­a­tion helped me know how bad it was for peo­ple,” she said.

With a lot of hard work the as­so­ci­a­tion per­suaded Glas­gow Dis­trict Coun­cil to de­clare the ten­e­ments ac­tion ar­eas for im­prove­ment and this opened the door to fund­ing from the gov­ern­ment to mod­ernise them and save them from de­mo­li­tion.

In the years that fol­lowed the as­so­ci­a­tion im­proved over 600 flats in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang, bring­ing them up to mod­ern-day stan­dards.

Since then the as­so­ci­a­tion has gone from strength to strength, de­vel­op­ing new homes in Cam­bus­lang, Cathkin and Ruther­glen and in­vest­ing al­most £60mil­lion in the com­mu­nity.

Geral­dine counts the de­vel­op­ment of the As­pire Busi­ness Cen­tre on the site of the old East Parish Church, which brought much-needed jobs to the area, as one out­come which gives her per­sonal sat­is­fac­tion.

“I look at it and it gives me great pride to think that the as­so­ci­a­tion helped re­tain an iconic site in the town,” said Geral­dine.

In 2004 Geral­dine re­ceived the MBE for her hous­ing work.

She said: “I was de­lighted to re­ceive the hon­our but the recog­ni­tion should go to all of the vol­un­teers who have served on the man­age­ment com­mit­tee in the as­so­ci­a­tion’s 35year history.

“I was born and brought up in Ruther­glen and I love the place and its peo­ple. They are so warm, wel­com­ing and char­i­ta­ble.”

Geral­dine in­tends to con­tinue to serve on the man­age­ment com­mit­tee.

“I would really like to see some new blood come on board. If we could en­cour­age younger ten­ants to get in­volved that would be great,” she said.

Dave An­der­son, di­rec­tor of Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, paid trib­ute to Geral­dine’s work.

“She has been a tremen­dous am­bas­sador for the as­so­ci­a­tion and raised its pro­file across Scot­land,” he said.

“She has cer­tainly turned it into the suc­cess­ful or­gan­i­sa­tion it is to­day.”

Geral­dine worked for 20 years as a hous­ing man­ager with North View Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion in Castlemilk be­fore re­tir­ing.

She is mar­ried to Stu­art and praised him for his “sup­port, in­ter­est, and great in­put as a sound­ing board”.

Geral­dine also has a daugh­ter, Katy, who is a per­form­ing artist.

I love Ruther­glen and its peo­ple. They are so warm.

Great ser­vice Geral­dine Baird

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